Concise means brief in form but comprehensive in scope. It’s like knowing the ocean from extracting the essence of just one drop of seaside mist.
It’s a good model for practice on days when our resources (time, energy, hope…) are limited. Concise practice on these days is the key to consistency in the long term.
According to Patanjali:
sa tu dirgha kaala nairantarya satkara asevito drdha-bhumih – This becomes firmly established by skillful cultivation with consistency over a long time. (Yoga Sutra I.14)
‘This’, of course, refers to the content of the preceding two sutras, as well as my previous post: abhyasa (practice) and vairagya (renunciation).
Therein lies yet another challenging swirl of counter-forces: how to empower each moment, each day, each practice with the urgency and value as if it were our last, while at the same time showing the wisdom of patience and surrender to the prospect that yoga is a journey of lifetime(s)…
I love it! this is the stuff that keeps yoga growing more and more profound and interesting the more I practice and learn. These are the things that I keep in my reflections, as I go through the day-to-day life of yoga.
The Ashtanga practice has many helpful tools that can turn would be missed days into concise practice days and keep consistency in the bigger picture. Can’t make it to the studio? Won’t have time for your full practice? No place suitable for practice?…
Set your alarm back 20 min. It will be worth it. Wake-up, go to the bathroom, brush your teeth, and do your practice before you get involved with busy-ness of the day. Rise above the trap of ‘quickly checking your email’ or asking something to one of the eccentric early morning coffee drinkers upstairs!
Enjoy meeting any stiffness or kinks of your early morning body. Let the darkness support in drawing your senses inward. You’ve got 20 minutes only – make them count!
Stand alongside your bed, in the corridor, wherever! chant the mantra (and any other mantra that inspires you) either to yourself or aloud. Do the surya namaskara…
What? The dog is barking and sniffing you in vinyasa six?! The air is cold and the carpet smells dank?! Let it slide. Keep going! Remember, there are no indications in the shastras (yogic instructions) that what you may consider a ‘bad practice’ session is not worth it, is not a learning experience, or doesn’t count as a step in the journey of yoga.
Depending on your circumstance, you can add on top of the surya namaskara as much of the standing sequence and the finishing sequence as feels right. Or just sit down, take yogamudra, lift up into uthpluthi, concentrate for two minutes on the sound of your breath, and lay down for another 2 min.
Continue to keep that sincerity with you as best you can all day.
Short practice is infinitely better than no practice at all. You may feel better both now, and in many years from now when your practice is blossoming from such a long time of consistent effort.